Guns, Germs, and Steel - Section 1


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This is a powerpoint presentation to go along with the book Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. It covers the origins of economic stratification by discussing plant and animal domestication, climate, and geographic advantages.

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Guns, Germs, and Steel - Section 1

  1. 1. Social Stratification Guns, Germs, and Steel: Part 1
  2. 2. Standing Challenge <ul><li>Science advances by proving theories wrong (not by proving them right… sort of) ‏ </li></ul><ul><li>While reading GGS should be informative, I also want us to examine it critically – we should question the claims </li></ul><ul><li>So, here’s the challenge: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If anyone can provide evidence indicating one of the claims made by Diamond is wrong, you will get an automatic A on the Exam and won’t need to take it. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(This does not, of course, apply to grammar mistakes, typos, etc.) ‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Evidence I’ll accept: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Peer-reviewed publications </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Up to the Starting Line <ul><li>As mentioned before, the magical date for our question (inequality) is 11,000 BCE </li></ul><ul><li>At that time, all human groups were basically equal </li></ul><ul><li>Prior to 11,000, the history of man is our evolutionary past, from when we branched off from the great apes to our spread around the world </li></ul><ul><li>We were more technologically adept than apes in 11,000 BCE, but not by much </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Much of our development beyond the abilities of apes started at the Great Leap Forward (around 40,000 BCE) – first stone tools, beads, fully modern human skeletons, better hunting techniques, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We also expanded even further… </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Spread of Humans origins 7 million BCE by 500,000 BCE by 1 million BCE by 20,000 BCE By 40,000 BCE 33,000 BCE 1000 CE 1,200 BCE 500 CE by 12,000 BCE by 11,000 BCE by 2,000 BCE by 10,000 BCE
  5. 5. Up to the Starting Line <ul><li>The early spread of humans led to some significant changes that become very important later on </li></ul><ul><li>Domesticable animals are an important factor in technological development (more on this later) ‏ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The humans who spread from Africa and Eurasia around 40,000 BCE ran into big mammals that were not used to humans as predators; arguably, those mammals were wiped out by early human settlers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This happened in Australia (dodo, moas, sloths), Siberia (woolly mammoths) and the Americas (elephants, lions, horses, sloths) ‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In contrast, the big mammals in Eurasia and Africa co-existed with humans long enough prior to the development of humans more advanced hunting techniques to develop defenses (i.e., fear), so they survived to later be domesticated (some of them) ‏ </li></ul>
  6. 6. Had those mammals not been wiped out…
  7. 7. A Natural Experiment of History <ul><li>How does environment affect human societies? </li></ul><ul><li>Polynesia offers an example </li></ul><ul><li>The islands differ in: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Size, area, isolation, elevation, climate, productivity, geological and biological resources </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Moriori vs. Maori <ul><li>The Moriori of the Chathams were hunter-gatherers because crops didn’t grow well there even though the original settlers may have been farmers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hunter-gatherer societies are less complex – no large, centralized government (more on this later) ‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also small population due to limited land (~2,000) ‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Maori were farmers with complex government and lots of people (~100,000) ‏ </li></ul><ul><li>When the Maori found the Chathams, they massacred the Moriori </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Maori were more developed – Why? </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. 6 Factors for Development <ul><li>Island Climate, Geological Type, Marine Resources, Area, Terrain Fragmentation, Isolation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Which are ideal for more rapid development? Why? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In particular, large land size and climate favorable to agriculture lead to surplus, which leads to what? </li></ul><ul><li>Why is government and specialization important to development? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Collision at Cajamarca <ul><li>Biggest population shift of modern times is colonization of New World by Europeans – 1492 on </li></ul><ul><li>Atahuallpa’s (Inca emperor) capture is significant as a turning point but also as an illustration of the factors that led to Europeans conquering Americans and not vice versa </li></ul><ul><li>Someone describe… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>6,000-7,000 dead Incas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>168 Spanish vs. 40,000 Incas </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Collision at Cajamarca <ul><li>Why did Pizarro capture Atahuallpa? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Steel swords and armor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guns (minor advantage at this point) ‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Horses (significant advantage until WWI) ‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Writing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Boats and navigation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centralized government </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why are all of these advantages? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Collision at Cajamarca <ul><li>How did Atahuallpa come to be at Cajamarca? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What was the state of the Incas when Pizarro arrived? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Smallpox just killed the emperor and designated heir; split the kingdom and Atahuallpa was fighting against his brother </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diseases killed 95% of Native Americans </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why did Atahuallpa walk into the trap? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of information (writing advantage) ‏ </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Collision at Cajamarca <ul><li>Summary of advantages: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Proximate factors: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Guns, steel weapons, horses, infectious diseases endemic in Eurasia, maritime technology, centralized political organization, writing (GGS) ‏ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Now, what led to the proximate factors? Or, what are the ultimate factors? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Questions <ul><li>GGS/Page 45: Why did the native American populations move South to Patagonia? Were they driven out by something, or merely ventured south? </li></ul><ul><li>New York Times article/link “A Dying Breed” by Andrew Rice: Besides making more money, why would these farmers want to lose the Ankole cow in its pure genetic form? Why is science seemingly turning it’s back on this issue, when the author clearly made the point that some of these endangered species may have genetic factors significant to future endeavors in many areas? </li></ul><ul><li>How would have the communities turned out differently if the people had domesticated the large animals instead of killing them? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Questions <ul><li>If China is to become the next 'superpower,' how did this happen and when did the country's mentality change? </li></ul><ul><li>What was the quality of living at 11,000BCE and what were the innovations that some people developed at the time to make that civilization prosper? </li></ul><ul><li>Some weapons were found at the Cro-Magnon sites, but what kind of sources from the land were used to make the weapons? Also how did they know that they were using the correct materials for the weapons? </li></ul><ul><li>The Neanderthals were “the first humans to leave behind strong evidence of burying their dead.” Were some Neanderthals better at making weapons then other Neanderthals? Also did women Neanderthals have similar social roles as the women today? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Questions <ul><li>Does Diamond think that the difference in the time of divergence in Polynesia made a substantial difference? For example, the entire Maori/Moriori separation spans a period of barely 500 years, whereas the American/Eurasian divide stood for over 12,000 years. Are the basic tenets of the Guns, Germs and Steel thesis the same irrespective of the time of divergence? </li></ul><ul><li>How would Diamond explain the difference in effect (and possibly of intent) of different colonizers? For example, the Maori colonization of the Chathams exterminated the Moriori population in effect (and probably in intent as well), whereas the Spanish colonization of South America nearly exterminated the indigenous population in effect (through disease), but the intent does not seem to be one of extermination, but rather one of subjugation and utilization for labor to extract resources. Is the difference one of coveting the land versus coveting the resources of the land? Are there geographical reasons for the difference in colonizing motive? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Questions we will answer later… <ul><li>What do you think is the most influential force on one’s economic standing? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the advantages of living in the Northern Hemisphere where Eurasia is located as opposed to that of Africa in the Southern Hemisphere? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the distribution of the United States' wealth? Is it true that over half of the money belongs to only 2% of the population? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Imaginary Anthropologist <ul><li>If an imaginary alien anthropologist looked at the world in 11,000 BCE and saw basically the map above (mostly filled with people), what do you think he/she would say about future development? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Which areas do you think he/she would guess would develop most rapidly? </li></ul></ul>
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